Ben Fullerton Vital stats: 6'7"; 220 lbs.; 23" torso Home turf: Boulder, CO
From just about the time I could walk, it was clear that I was only interested in being in the outdoors. I grew up in the wooded Northwest corner of Connecticut and began my outdoor life on family camping trips and youth group hiking trip to New Hampshire's White Mountains.
I am now an active hiker, backpacker, camper, and an obsessive rock and ice climber and mountaineer. I also make my living as an outdoor/adventure sports photographer (http://FullertonImages.com). Whether working or playing, I’m pretty much always outside (averaging over 100 days a year abusing gear in one form or another). Which bring us to the other thing about me that was apparent from a young age: I break things. A lot. No gear of mine has ever had an easy life, whether it's a pair of pants, a stove, or an expensive camera. When I'm out bagging peaks, climbing walls, or trying to capture beautiful imagery, there's just no room in my pack for things that can't take a beating and still perform. So, if something survived ten rounds in the ring with me, you know you can trust it!
Joe Flowers Vital stats: 5’ 9”; 165 lbs.; 19.5" torso length;
Home turf: Sparta, NC
I am a passionate backpacker who loves woods walking, catching critters and testing gear—preferably all three at the same time! I have a degree in Zoology with a minor and emphasis in Entomology, so I spend lots of time hiking where the creepy crawlies live. Through my travels around the US and South America, I’ve had a chance to learn all sorts of camping and survival skills, and I like to share them. I teach survival skills, fitness classes, martial arts, and I run outdoor camps for kids and adults at Alleghany Wellness Center (www.alleghanywellnesscenter.com)
I also have a serious passion for outdoor tools, especially knives. I’ve written for a number of magazines such as Tactical Knives and SWAT, and Woodsmonkey.com, and I consult and design for several knife companies including TOPS knives and Condor Knife and Tool. My biggest backpacking pet peeve is when a fellow backpacker doesn’t even bring a small Swiss Army Knife or duct tape! You can fix just about anything with these two items and a bit of ingenuity!
Joel Nyquist Vital stats: 6’2”; 165 lbs.; 21.5” torso;
Home turf: South Riding, VA
I’m an avid backpacker, skier, bicyclist, snowshoer, and aspiring mountaineer. I suffer from what you might call “paralysis by analysis”. I’ve always envied those people who can walk into a store, buy something, and be done. But I’m an engineer by education and employment, and I take those skills and apply them to my outdoor shopping experience. I start off by researching online for a few weeks, then going to three to four stores to compare prices and grill salespeople. When I finally make a purchase, I’m often struck with buyer’s remorse, in which case return the item (unused, of course!), and get something else, based on another round of research.
My methodical approach to gear analysis and selection is why BACKPACKER hired me. Whether it’s for a backpack, a pair of boots, or even a tent stake, I’ll do the analysis for you. I’ll do the comparison shopping. And I’ll do the field testing to let you know exactly why and how a product works.
Will Rochfort Vital Stats: 6’0”; 175 lbs.; 18.5” torso
Home Turf: San Diego, CA
Although the mailing address for my two-bedroom, two-story gear closet is in San Diego, my outdoor adventures–backpacking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, climbing–cover a large swath of the southwestern US. I run twelve to fifteen trips per year (check out my website at http://web.me.com/lifeinhd )—there are very few things more enjoyable to me than taking someone out on their first real backcountry experience.
My personal backpacking career started after my second (of three) major knee surgeries. My doctor told me to choose a new sport, and when I picked up a copy of BACKPACKER during physical therapy, I was instantly hooked. Six months later I set off into the wilderness with a kit that included a brand new pair of running shoes, a borrowed tent, athletic warm-ups, and (despite BP’s warnings) two 100% cotton sweatshirts. I even carried in ten liters of water because I thought that might be easier than spending the time to research the differences between water filters and purifiers. Suffice it to say, I learned a lot of lessons about gear the hard way.